(MENAFN - Jordan Times) A total of 106 cases of violations to press freedom were recorded in 2011, according to a report issued on Wednesday by a press freedom advocacy group.
According to the report, which was conducted during the last two months of last year, the violations took the form of physical and verbal assaults as well as arrests.
Issued by the Centre for Defending the Freedom of Journalists (CDFJ), the report said that attacks on journalists had become a common practice over the past year and that assailants had not been held accountable.
The third annual report also noted that 15.4 per cent of 500 surveyed journalists believed that press freedoms had increased during the past 12 months, driven by popular demonstrations, while 16.8 per cent said they had decreased.
"The journalists have become more willing to assert their freedom to cover local activities and to touch on sensitive issues despite the intimidation from governmental and non-governmental parties," CDFJ President Nidal Mansour said at a press conference to launch the report.
Mansour added that more than 50 per cent of the targeted sample believed that the recent amendments to the Constitution regarding the media had no impact on press freedom, while 26 per cent of the sample said the amendments had positive effects to the profession. In addition, 68.5 per cent said popular pressure on the authorities had contributed to ending government intervention in media affairs.
Meanwhile, 83 per cent of journalists said they believed the online media played a role in increasing press freedom, while 41 per cent said the sector should be regulated on the basis of a code of conduct.
Of the 500 journalists surveyed, 64 per cent said they had either been a target or heard about a colleague being a target of "soft containment" - attempts to influence the media through bribery or influence peddling - and 41 per cent said they were intimidated by the local authorities on the backdrop of their coverage, with 12.8 per cent saying they had received threats.
The proportion of journalists saying they practise self-censorship declined to 87 per cent this year from 95 per cent in last year's report. "However, journalists are still reluctant to report on three main sensitive topics: the Armed Forces, the security agencies and religion," Mansour said.
Also Wednesday, the Jordan Press Association council issued a statement marking the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, observed today, in which it noted that reforming the press is key to achieving comprehensive reform, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.
In the statement, the council reaffirmed its disapproval of trying journalists in the State Security Court, arguing that cases related to the press are under the jurisdiction of courts of first instance.
The council also expressed hope that the new government would revise the laws governing the conduct of media outlets in the Kingdom and amend them in a way that removes obstacles hindering the freedom of the press.